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Olympics-Shooting-Zhu weeps after missing gold for China
BEIJING Aug 11 (Reuters) - Shooter Zhu Qinan wept on the podium as he collected his silver medal on Monday and sobbed uncontrollably at a news conference, showing the huge pressure on Chinese athletes to win on home turf at the Beijing Olympics.
The hot favourite to defend his title in the 10m air rifle, Zhu had stumbled late in the qualification when he had to rush his final shots.
He was still within striking range of gold until the end but lost to Abhinav Bindra -- himself facing the prospect of winning India's first ever individual Olympic gold -- who stormed ahead from fourth place.
"After 2004 my only target was to defend my title in Beijing," Zhu said as his voice quivered. He bowed his head down, wiped away his tears and paused for a moment.
"Getting a silver medal is already a very good consolation for me because I really worked hard for it," who admitted he felt enormous pressure to win another gold medal to add to China's medal tally. "But my luck wasn't good enough."
Zhu, 23, got off to a good start with a perfect 10 on his 40 shots in qualification for a 400. But then he had to rush his final 20 shots to make the 90-minute time limit and ended up with only 597 of a possible 600, one behind Finland's Henri Hakkinen.
He tried to strike a confident pose as he strolled past reporters into the Beijing shooting range hall for the finals.
But he clearly looked strained under the home country's enormous expectations -- China hopes to top the medals table after finishing second to the United States in 2004.
"I've been through a lot of hardship and shed a lot of tears in the last four years, there have been successes and failures," he said. "After 2004 my only aim has not changed. I had so very much wanted to be a champion at the Beijing Olympics."
Still crying while the ever-calm Bindra looked on impassively to his right as he sipped an energy drink, Zhu added: "In the last two rounds I made several mistakes because I had used up all my physical and mental energy.
"I was under tremendous pressure and at times I felt really agitated," Zhu said. "But I tried my best."
Athens gold medallist Du Li also crumbled under the home crowd glare and fled weeping after finishing fifth in the women's 10 metre air rifle -- missing out on the chance of winning the Games' first gold medal event for China. (Editing by Alison Williams)
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